LONDON: Marketers need to up their game when developing communications aimed at young girls, as stereotypes about pink and princesses are far from attractive to all under-10s and become less so as they get older new research has shown.

For its Little Miss Understood report, The Pineapple Lounge, an agency specialising in research on children, surveyed 1,070 girls across the UK aged 8-14, revealing their likes, dislikes and what they want from the brands that target them.

This found that 27% of 8-10 year olds disliked princesses and anything pink, rising to 38% of 11-12 year olds and 39% of 13-14 year olds.

And while 41% of all girls expressed an interest in celebrities, far more (59%) were interested in video games.

Nor was their choice of role models what the stereotype would suggest: 7% chose singer Miley Cyrus, while 40% opted for Olympic heptathlon champion Jessica Ennis-Hill.

"I think some industries can become quite complacent when it comes to targeting and marketing to girls and go for the lowest common denominator, like pink, glitz and the allure of fame," Emma Worrollo, managing director of The Pineapple Lounge, told Marketing Week.

"That is not to say that that is not interesting or appealing," she added, "but there are other emotional prompts or angles that engage girls beyond that stereotypical imagery."

Fun features prominently among those: half the girls in the survey said they wanted brands to help them have fun.

Brands that allowed them to be themselves were attractive for 44% while they were also likely to engage with brands that gave them confidence (39%) and asked for their opinion (38%).

The onset of puberty, not surprisingly, brought some changes in attitude – in particular, there was a drop in confidence.

Some 62% of 8-10 year olds felt confident about their future but this fell to 55% among 13-14 year olds. Similar declines were evident when asked whether they were happy about life (85% down to 74%) and if they felt equal to boys (73% down to 63%).

"There is a huge question mark over why there is that rapid decline when they get to the 13-to-14 age group and what we can do as an industry to hand-hold, guide and support during that time," said Worrollo

Data sourced from Marketing Week; additional content by Warc staff